So it’s a new year, and a new book. I have some trouble starting this review because it’s hard to express my emotions and elucidation about this novel while maintaining a sophisticated thought process. I finished it a week ago and I have to give it back to the library soon, but I don’t want to. I want to throw it in a wheat thresher. The book sucks, but how does it suck?
I remember something that Jim Butcher said in a seminar I attended. First impressions are the most important, even for your literary characters. Like real life, this is how people will remember him or her. Koko’s story starts right after her boyfriend gets shot in the leg, the almost-assassin is already knocked out, and then they run. So basically the very first chapter, the very first words in the entire book (after the prologue), are telling me that I just missed a really cool scene. Koko and her wounded boyfriend Flynn have to run from their private island resort in a submarine because, “They found us,” and that’s all that we really need to know about her. Flynn spends most of the book either unconscious or doped up on experimental medication, so he’s barely worth the effort, and all we need to know about the evil bounty hunter Wire (as in “Live Wire”) is that she’s tough and she likes beating people up. Deep. Honestly the best character in this book is the world itself. It starts off in the Polynesian resort region known as “the Sixty,” and spends most of the time in an undisclosed location in the Pacific Northwest known as “the Commonage.” Two scientists, Doctors Corella and Sebastion, are experimenting with mind-control drugs on a placid population inside their walled city is in the radioactive ruins of “North-Am.” Outside the walls are a bunch of post-apocalyptic raiders called the “de-civs” who have their own goofy language and like to hit things with broken tree branches. One guy owns a knife. No seriously, that’s it.
There isn’t much to say about this plot. Koko and Lloyd get blown off-course to land in the Commonage. They get captured. There’s a little girl that knows the secret of the mind control drugs, but she dies (killed by Koko’s lousy submarine driving. Our hero, ladies and gentlemen) and her plot thread peters out after ten chapters. The two doctors whisper amongst themselves about selling the mind control drug called “TAM” (I have no idea what that means, nor do I care). They never go to market. Wire buys a fighter jet to make it across the Pacific Ocean. It crashes. So she threatens the de-civs to help her raid the Commonage and kill Koko. They fail ten minutes in. Koko escapes. Wire escapes. Dr. Corella captures Flynn for more experiments. The de-civs run away. Most of the Commonage citizens die, and someone kills the blue robot dog. Did I forget to mention the blue robot dog? I’m sorry, but it didn’t make much of an impression on me. Nothing did. I kept forgetting who was who because everyone and everything just blurred together. I remember moments that started off sounding cool but fizzled out into nothing. Think of the possibilities that this book could offer. The future! Sixty islands of sex and debauchery! A radioactive wasteland to explore and barbaric savages to fight! Evil scientists with mind control drugs! Robot dogs!
Let’s spend the rest of the book glossing over the possibilities and saying, “Boy, we almost saw something happen!” Shea must have written this book with help from South Park's Underpants Gnomes. Step one: bring up a ridiculous idea. Step two: (blank). Step three: Profit! It seems to me that the most effort he put into anything was inventing his futuristic double-speak. In the future prostitutes will be called “relief specialists.” Remember that because there's going to be a quiz on it later.
This book is a sequel, so someone is going to argue to me that I should have read the first one to really get a grasp of the story. There are two problems with that. One, Shea recounts the book in a one-page prologue. Two, I don’t give a shit. The most that I can glean about Koko’s personality is that she’s a reckless bitch that shoots first and asks questions never, but she’s not a very good shot! Flynn is dead weight. Wire became the author’s new favorite ass-kicker but she’s really just a big bully. And any attempt at conspiracy or plot is washed away in the confusion. And blue robot dogs, because this is the future, I guess. There are possibilities for some cool settings in 25th century Earth, but Shea doesn’t sound like he’s going to examine them any time soon. I hate this book and I just ran out of things to say about it. Here’s a…
…for the final grade. Can I go now?
Listening to: Erock
Reading: The Shaman's Knife
Playing: XCom 2